The Mafia During the 1920's

The Mafia During the 1920's

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Alphonse Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, January 17, 1899. Al, as most people knew him as, was perhaps the most famous of all American mobsters. Growing up in Brooklyn, Al acquired "an education in petty crime and the name of "Scarface Al" because of a razor slash across his face."(Grolier, Capone) Capone later moved to Chicago and survived the gang wars of the 1920's by having his rivals killed. In 1929 Capone's gang dreesed as policemen, and executed seven members of the "Bugs" Morgan gang; this was later known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. By the end of the 1920's he dominated the bootlegging of liquior, which brought him an inncome of more than $20 million a year.(Grolier, Capone) The federal authorities finally suceeded in capturing Capone where the Chicago police had failed. Capone was so good at covering his tracks that the federal authorities could only get him on income-tax evasion. In October 1931, Capone was fined $80,000 and sentanced to 11 years in prision.(Grolier, Capone) Al Capones life has been portrayed on film several times due to his popularitym as a mobster. When he was released in November 1939 he was terminaly ill with syphillis, and died on his Flordia estate January 25, 1947.

St. Valentine Massacre

At 10:20 a.m. on Saint Valentine's Day in 1929, Chicago was brimming with sunshine. Even the George ("Bugs") Moran booze-peddling depot on North Clark Street was peaceful. This depot was marked as a garage for the S.M.C. Cartage Co. On this morning, six underworld figures presided, waiting for coffee. Another man, wearing overalls, tinkered with a beer vat on a truck, completing the total to seven men.

Just ten minutes later, the men glanced at each other, alarmed. A fast blue car eased into the curb outside the depot. The car produced four men. Two, dressed as police, held sub-machine guns. The other two, shabbily dressed, carried shotguns. All the gangsters raised their hands over their heads. The four visitors marched them to the back of the garage and lined them up against the far wall. They were frisked for weapons.

One of the men inquired as to what was happening, and one of the four new men shouted, "give it to 'em!" From the four guns streamed 100 bullets, of which only eight reached the wall behind the victims. One man tried to escape, but a bullet shot at nearly point blank range ripped through his head.

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Almost all died immediately.

A neighbor reported what she saw; two men, who looked like police officers, walked out of the building with two others, dressed in normal clothing. The two normally-dressed men held their hands over their heads. To her the incident was obviously a raid and an arrest. She had been fooled. Finally, the real police came, and counted the dead bodies. Six men were dead, and one was dying. This was a record even for violent Chicago. Bugs Moran was not among the group that day. He was out of town for St. Valentine's Day. The deceased men were Moran's brother-in-law and co-leader, James Clark, no. 1 gunman Peter Gusenberg, con-man John Snyder, Gorilla Al Weinshank, John May (the man in overalls), and Reinhart Schwimmer. Frank Gusenberg, Pete's little brother, lived for three hours after the shootings, carrying twenty bullets in his body. He eventually died. The only thing left living in the garage was the Gusenberg's police dog.

Notorious Gang leader, Alphonse "Al" Capone and his west side mob was suspected of instigating and carrying out the massacre. It was all about revenge. Capone's friend, Tony Lombardo, was killed the summer before, and a shipment of Canadian whiskey to Capone was hijacked the last fortnight. Both incidents were believed to be done by Moran men. Capone was reported to be living in Florida, innocently of course!
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